One of the most important aspects of participating in sports is often one of the most overlooked – stretching both before and after exercising.
“Stretching helps improve your flexibility, which in turn can prevent injury,” says Jimmy D. Bowen, MD, FAAPMR, CSCS, physiatrist, who practices at Saint Francis Healthcare System. “Before exercising, you want to engage in a dynamic warm up, such as a lunge with a twist, to activate your muscles and increase body temperature. After exercising, it is important to complete a set of static stretches where you hold the stretch while your body is at rest.”
When stretching, hold each stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds. You should feel tension, but not pain. “Do not bounce when you stretch,” says Bowen. “That can injure your muscles. If you stretch correctly, you will feel good after completing the stretch.”
To learn more about the benefits of stretching, talk to your primary care physician.